“Ethics are how we behave when we decide we belong together.” ~Unknown

Data shows, especially in the tech industry, that gender discrimination exists in many different forms, from sexual assault, to treatment in behavior, to pay practices, to promotional practices and it goes on. However, men and women continue to see it differently. Men less ready to see the gravity of it, and women fed up with men who don’t take it seriously. The quick and dirty bottom line is men and women do not understand or share the same beliefs about the problem

Spirit Tree Consulting in partnership with NativeVR has introduced the use of an award-winning Virtual Reality film that explores what it is like to be a young woman coder at a start-up in San Francisco. This 360 degree experience allows you to choose to be in the body of a young woman coder, or by turning your head experience what it is like to be her male boss, pitching to Venture Capitalists in New York, all occurring simultaneously.

The virtual reality experience is a way to have a felt experience from the perspective of both the woman and the man. In the movie the ethical choices they make to either speak up or lose something they value occurs in both genders. Even the best intentioned of us are put into situations that make us ask ourselves, could we be better.

Virtual reality brings greater awareness and empathy. This provides a forum where we can discuss these ethical individual situations and look at the group dynamics that make it hard to speak up. We have data that supports after being immersed in virtual reality both men and women have:
• A higher sense of personal responsibility to advance Gender Equality at Work
• And a higher desire to monitor one self’s and others’ behaviors for gender biases

We have to understand the conditions for both men and women and why it is so hard to get this right. Power imbalance occurs in many ways when conducting business, and it creates ethical dilemmas that can be very difficult to navigate both for women and men.
Of course, extreme ethical and moral infractions need to be handled in our judicial system. But we have seen that even in the extreme there have been years and years of cultural acceptance of the worst behaviors. Case in point, Matt Lauer NBC. He was their cash cow, and so heads were turned, NDA’s signed and big payouts were made.

But on a daily basis, when the there is a power imbalance, it can easily be overlooked. I remember years ago, being in a meeting where I spoke up, was quickly passed over to someone else, and ten minutes later my male counterpart offered the same idea and got the credit. When I raised my voice to defend myself, I was seen as defensive, overly emotional, not one of the guys, or when I stood my ground, a bitch (aggressive woman). Overtime, I would pick my battles, or not even try. I did not love my work, nor was I bringing my best self to work over time. My ethical choice was a paycheck over walking away at the time. These kinds of reinforcing behavior cycles are toxic to organizations, especially to creating inclusive cultures.

So why do I bring this up.

We can learn how to have high stakes conversations and Social Courage. Healthy conflict about issues not personality or diversity. This does not mean walking on egg shells and being ultra-politically correct. It means respect, ethical decisions, and authentic relationships at work.

Finally, positive change can only be sustained with the alignment of the organizational culture and the accountability of the organizations governance structures and leadership.

Virtual reality is not the magic pill to make it all right, but it is an accelerator for positive change. If you would like to learn more visit our VR Workshop page.

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